SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The public health officers for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties as well as the City of Berkeley will issue revised shelter-in-place orders this week, largely keeping in place current restrictions in place and extending them through the end of May.
The new order will include a limited easing of specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities. Details of the next phase will be shared later in the week, along with the updated order, according to a press statement from the region’s public health officers.
Shelter-in-place orders were set to expire on May 3, 2020. In a joint press release from the health officers for the seven jurisdictions, they cited the collective sacrifice of more than seven million citizens as having made substantial progress in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, ensuring hospitals were not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, and saving lives.
“At this stage of the pandemic, however, it is critical that our collective efforts continue so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved together. Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities. Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases,” said the health officers in a prepared statement.
The health officers plan to release a set of broad indicators to track progress in the COVID-19 response, in alignment with the framework being used by the State of California and announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week.
“Future easing of restrictions requires that each jurisdiction and various sectors continue to rapidly build critical infrastructure and systems to respond to and control the spread of coronavirus infections and to ensure the health care system’s ability to meet demand,” the joint statement said.
On Monday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city would shut down of portions of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park & John F. Shelley Dr. in John McLaren Park to allow space for people to move about without vehicles but reminded people “We don’t want to see picnics or playdates … we still need you to practice physical distancing.”
“We have tried to make sure with this process as we are trying to protect public health that we don’t create and even worse problem with a number of those sorts of challenges related to mental health, related to economic health of your household and those other matters,” said Breed. “I am sure it has probably been for some of you the most challenging time of your lives.”
A handful of small business owners frustrated with how the stay-at-home orders are impacting them financially have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Newsom.
A growing number of U.S. states plan to join hard-hit European countries this week by starting to lift lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. They do so as the number of people confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the U.S. quickly approaches 1 million, and the death toll topped 55,000.
President Trump, meanwhile, has been urged to scale back the daily COVID-19 briefings at the White House after being contradicted by his administration’s health experts on various remarks he’s made during the briefings.
Many people are finding it harder and harder to stay cooped up at home.
On Monday evening, San Jose’s Municipal Rose Garden looked picture perfect, but there was still anxiety in the air.
“I hope this lockdown kind of ends soon, but I also don’t want to get the virus cause that’s dangerous,” said Anna Kotov. “So I’m not sure if I want to go to school.”
Sophia Caramagno is a high school teacher in the South Bay.
“I have an immune system like you would not believe, but I have an elderly mother-in-law and I could get her sick, and she could get everyone she lives with sick, and that would be totally irresponsible,” she said.
Though it may be dreaded, 75 percent of Californians support the shelter-in-place for as long as is needed to slow the spread of the virus, according to the California Health Care Foundation.
A model put initial projections of Bay Area deaths between 34,000 and 44,000. To date, there are 266.
Bay Area hospitalizations hit their lowest point, since the state started recording data.
But UCSF Professor of Epidemiology George Rutherford said the shelter-in-place extension through May is appropriate because that downward trend needs to be consistent.
“It’s a lethal virus. It’s easily transmissible. The reason infections are going down is because transmission is going down. The reason transmissions are going down is because people are sheltering in place.” said Rutherford.
What has gone up is the number of calls to the warm line — a free, mental health support line available to all Californians.
“A good significant amount are focused on financial concerns, and the overall quality of their mental health. As you know a lot of people have lost their jobs, or have been laid off,” said Mark Salazar, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco.
Betty Yu contributed to this report.